I think that in every school I have worked in one of the things that has always been an issue is communication. Communication from SLT to teachers, from teachers to TAs and from school to parents and of course all of the other permutations that are available before you start including children and outside agencies in to the mix.
It is very easy to be clear what you want to say. You know the message you want to portray and choose your words carefully but somehow it becomes “lost in translation”. People who feel insecure hear you saying, “What you’ve done so far is great and now we need to start doing this too,” hear, “You’re rubbish, why aren’t you doing this yet?” Is there an easy way round this? Perhaps not.
Email is even worse. You send an email and you know the tone of voice that you are writing it with, the recipient doesn’t always hear it the same way. The ice-breaker game on courses where you have to say, “Thank you” in as many different tones of voice as possible proves that.
Today I chased round all morning to collect lots of paperwork to take to an important meeting this afternoon. I prepared what I needed to say, I had all of the paperwork, I left school on time and arrived where I needed to be 5 minutes early. I knew I shouldn’t have felt smug! “Hello, why are you here?” they asked, I explained for my 2:30 meeting, “It was at 10 o’clock this morning,”they said. Glad of modern technology I whipped out my phone and showed the 2 emails that clearly said that the meeting was at 2:30.
Someone trooped down the several flights of stairs to come and see me. The lady looked slightly shamefaced – she was sorry, she’d checked her emails, I was right, no one had told me that the meeting time had changed. The meeting had gone ahead without me. They said it was unusual that I had forgotten … It wasn’t tragic, it was a bot annoying as I’d prepared everything but never mind. it would be pots and kettles if I were to complain as, despite best intentions, I have forgotten things in the past. It doesn’t happen often but I’m not infallible.
There seems to be endless opportunities for miscommunication. It annoys people, it can waste time but it can be important. We all lead such busy lives and have multiple diaries and electronic calendars across a variety of devices, is it any wonder that the odd appointment goes astray. We no longer seem to have the luxury of time to discuss and pass on messages between people at school, is it any wonder we misunderstand each other? It is important that the messages get through. I guess we all just need to slow down.
I must take my own advice – after updating my work calendar, my home calendar, my desk diary and the strange app that bleeps at me on my phone…